Disaster dogs need to have incredible agility. They need to navigate rubble and slash piles to search for trapped humans and cadaver. Often they need to climb ladders or make-shift ladders to get access to search areas. These dogs need to have great balance, body awareness and core muscles.
Watch Cassia on the wicked ladder. The ladder swings and the “rungs” move: Cassia walking the ladder.
We practice our dog’s dexterity with lots of different ladders, planks, tunnels and different surfaces. Ladders come in different materials, different rung spacing, round and square rungs. The dogs practice walking over grated metal, slippery surfaces, uneven and moving planks.
We start our dogs as early as possible! Young dogs learn to navigate the appropriate obstacles using lots of praise, treats and their favorite toys.
Like our alert and search training, agility training is a team effort. It’s all hands on deck and everybody helps keeping the dogs and dog handlers safe.
Our dogs need to learn to move slowly and in a controlled fashion. Because most disaster dogs are high energy and love to run, this takes a lot of training! We need them to be able to stop and turn at any given moment. They need to respond to directions but also need to be able to traverse rubble, slash and obstacles on their own.
Some of the obstacles our dogs need to navigate to pass FEMA’s Foundational Skills Assessment: